It’s how creative districts should be; an intriguing mix of the old and new, the street and the fine art, the working artist and, of course, the monied. Dubai’s Alserkal Avenue is all grown up and become an eclectic hub for the city’s creative community.

What was once only a sand-clad industrial area, Dubai’s Al Quoz, is establishing itself as a thriving arts district, with Alserkal at its heart. Beginning as a small cluster of 20 blue dusty warehouses that attracted forward-thinking art galleries, studios and workshops in 2007, the five laneways comprising the hub have organically emerged as one of the region’s foremost arts and culture neighbourhoods.

It’s success has seen the site open a bright shiny new expansion, with purpose-built sand coloured galleries resolutely reflecting their predecessors. Doubled in sized, with an extensive arts programme and public installations, the arts centre now welcomes esteemed international art galleries alongside homegrown talent.

We visited Alserkal Avenue and spoke to some of its creative community about the arts hub.

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Abdelmonem Bin Eisa Alserkal, founder, Alserkal Avenue

“Alserkal Avenue has evolved to become an important platform for genuine, grassroots cultural exchange not just for the Dubai arts community but within the region at large. We want this cultural wealth to cement the importance of The Avenue as a home for visionaries and creative leaders, making it their window to the world.”

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Sunny Rahbar, co-founder and managing partnerThe Third Line gallery

“Having called Al Quoz home for nearly a decade, the gallery is celebrating its 10th year by joining the fold of the rich art community housed within Alserkal Avenue, and placing itself among some of the top arts and culture players in Dubai.

“As we enter our tenth year, we have spent some time looking inwards and outwards and all around us. The Dubai we set up in has changed a lot. We love this new energised, vibrant and happening city. And we look forward to the next ten years, growing and evolving with the metropolis we call home.”

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Alexander Heller, director, Leila Heller Gallery 

“We came to Dubai with the international of exposing well known western artists that have not yet shown in the Middle East, coupled with the most important Middle Eastern artists working in the region and the diaspora today. As a result, I live between New York and Dubai…I basically live on and Emirates aeroplane!

“We view Dubai as the longterm centre if the Middle East and treat our gallery here has a hub for a larger business strategy that we have across the region.

“Dubai has clearly become a cultural hub and our expansion here from New York comes at a time when we believe in the proliferation of art in this region more than ever.”

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Mohamed Somji, founder, Gulf Photo Plus

“We’ll be marking our fifth year at Alserkal Avenue this summer. At the time, it was a bold decision but we loved the industrial area both for the space that it afforded us to conduct our workshops, host photo exhibitions and offer studio facilities but also because there was a distinct vibe and authenticity about the area.

“During that time, the Alserkal team stayed true to their vision and their hard work and commitment has made Alserkal Avenue and Al Quoz one of the most vibrant and creative areas in the city and we’re very proud to be a part of it.”

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Words & Photography by Sandra Tinari

This article was first published in Emirates Airlines’ Open Skies Magazine